The Arizona Coyotes will have a new general manager for the NHL’s modified postseason this summer.
General manager John Chayka resigned on Sunday, the team announced, the same day they were set to travel to Edmonton ahead of the season restart.
Chayka, according to the Arizona Republic, informed the team on Friday that he was terminating his contract. The Coyotes promoted assistant general manager Steve Sullivan to interim general manager.
‘John Chayka has quit’
The Coyotes didn’t hold back in their statement announcing the news on Sunday, stating plainly that Chayka “quit” his position and that they are “disappointed in his actions and his timing.”
“John Chayka has quit as the General Manager and President of Hockey Operations of the Arizona Coyotes,” the team said. “The Club is disappointed in his actions and his timing as the Coyotes prepare to enter the NHL’s hub city of Edmonton, where the team will begin post-season play for the first time since 2012. Chayka has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest fans in the NHL.”
Chayka blames Coyotes’ ownership
Chayka didn’t provide much information about his departure in a statement himself on Sunday, but appeared to blame the organization’s ownership.
According to the Arizona Republic, “rumblings of a divide” between Chayka and the front office began earlier this week after he reportedly wasn’t invited to a dinner meeting with team owner Alex Meruelo and his son, team president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez and winger Taylor Hall. Chayka, per the report, learned of the meeting the next day — which was reportedly used to extend a contract offer to Hall, whose deal will expire at the end of the season.
“The past four years have been the most enjoyable of my life,” Chayka said in a statement, via the Arizona Republic. “In Arizona, I became a husband and a father, while working as hard as possible to make the Coyotes a Stanley Cup contender. I love our players, coaches, staff and fans and I very much wish I could be with the team in Edmonton. Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility.
“That’s all I intend to say on this matter for now. A fuller, more detailed explanation may be necessary in the near future. Until then, I wish the Coyotes good luck in Edmonton, and thank every member of Our Pack for the support shown to Kathryn, our daughter and myself over the years. Also, I want to congratulate Steve Sullivan as he steps into a new role. We’ve worked side-by-side for years. He is a great person and a terrific hockey mind.”
Chayka joined the Coyotes in 2015, and was the youngest general manager in the league’s history. The 31-year-old signed a contract extension last fall, and was set to remain with the team through the 2024 season.
The Coyotes will make their first playoff appearance since 2012 next month, kicking off a five-game qualification round playoff series with the Nashville Predators in Edmonton — one of two hub cities the NHL is using to finish its season.
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